Upper Klamath Lake (photo: Bureau of Reclamation)

Klamath Project’s ‘A Canal’ won’t open for irrigation

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The federal agency overseeing much of the irrigation in and around Klamath Lake will not release water from a canal this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is in charge of the Klamath Project, providing irrigation water to Klamath Counties in Oregon and Siskiyou and Modoc Counties in California.

On May 12, water users were notified there wasn’t enough water in Upper Klamath Lake to open the “A Canal” during the 2021 irrigation season. The Bureau of Reclamation said water levels were half of what is needed to charge the canal, even in the absence of any water deliveries.

The Klamath Water Users Association said the news was “the worst day in the history of the Klamath Project.”

According to the KWUA, there is enough water to supply irrigation needs, but the BLM is motivated by protecting fish protected by the Endangered Species Act.

“Water users are extremely upset with what the federal government is doing to us, and with good reason,” according to KWUA President Ben DuVal. “Taking water from Project irrigators for ESA species is a failed experiment that has produced no benefit for the species.”

The KWUA stated they’re seeking funding from the Biden administration and Congress to mitigate the financial damage expected as a result of the canal’s shutdown.

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